When I moved to Kerala I had only a vague idea about Ayurvedic medicine and its ways of treatment. It was Valsan Kolleri, a craftsman by trade, who led me to an ayurvedic shop in the sleepy town of Pattiam. Valsan was looking for an arishtam that would ease digestion as well as cleanse bowel. “Try this triphala. I made it.”, the clarity of that utterance is still clear in my mind. We were in the clinic of Chandran vaidyar and it was he who had made that declaration. Its only then I observed that the antique wooden shelves of his rustic “clinic” did not display a single bottle labeled by some Ayurvedic Pharma Co.
Kerala’s Traditional Ayurvedic Vaidyars
Chandran Vaidyar is one of the dwindling breed of Kerala’s traditional vaidyars. I seriously doubt if there is any one like him at least in my district, if not the rest of Kerala. He sources all the raw materials locally and concocts the elixir in his shop, but chiefly at his home. It surprised me to know that he gets most of the herbs fresh and then processes them in time honored traditions. His personal touch and supervision is the key to the quality of his medicines.
Vaidyar’s father, Shri. N. K. Achuthan Vaidyar was a Arya Vaidyan. Chandran Vaidyar acquired his knowledge from his father and under the tutelages of two other learned healers; contemporaries of his father. His collection of granthams (ancient texts) is his teacher now. N.K Achutan Vaidyar passed away in the year 1991. Chandran Vaidyar has been managing the “clinic” ever since. He uses his home as the laboratory because his inheritance allowed it and his dedication preserved it. Pattiam market has changed much in the past 65 years but one glance at the store and you would find it hard to believe that it has not upgraded anything. It was never needed I suppose.
After our first acquaintance, I found myself meeting him frequently. Sometimes for his medical opinion and other times for life experience. It also so happened that my health demanded some special attention during that time. A niggling back ache and an improperly healing ankle injury from a few months back were concerning. It was during those visits that I learned that he was a passionate cow keeper as well. It shouldn’t have surprised me since ghee from the purest breed of cow is an essential ingredient in many a ayurvedic medicine. They have been keeping cows ever since he could recollect, he mentioned during one of our meetings. Presently he keeps two cows and he uses most of the ghee in his medicines.
His guidance on cow care is from practical first hand experience. Over the years he has also learned how to treat common ailments in cows and has developed and shared some of those medicines whenever I needed.
Authentic Ayurvedic Medicine & Treatments
In the opinion of Chandran Vaidyar, ayurvedic medicine should not be looked upon as simple or just an alternative to other systems. Ayurveda revolves on vatham, pitham and kapha; combinedly known as tridosha. All living and non-living things are composed of five basic elements which are water, fire, sky, air and earth. As per ayurveda, vatham denotes sky and air, pitham denotes fire (sun) and kapham denotes earth and water. It is the duty of a vaidyan to find out which of the doshas is imbalanced and treat it. That along with rest and a healthy lifestyle is all that is needed to recover.
Traditional ayurvedic methods are effective in curing mental diseases, skin disorders, gastric even degenerative diseases and much more. In his opinion, a vaidyan, before deciding on a treatment for anybody should first study that person’s constitution and environment. He should then treat the cause for the disease. This is why over the counter treatment is impossible in traditional ayurvedic practice.
What sets him apart from others is the quality of his ingredients and his unwavering dedication towards the traditional methods and tools. Traditionally, dried whole herbs were dispensed to patients depending on their body composition and overall health. Patients would then be required to formulate the medicine as per the vaidyar’s instructions. Only specific complex medicines were prepared by vaidyars. Thus, knowledge was always dispensed freely.
Nowadays most ayurvedic medicine available in pharmacy shops contains sodium benzoate(SB discourages fermentation process in foods) as a preservative.
Vaidyar gets a constant supply of herbs from adjacent forests. Most parts of Kerala are ever green. Herbs are easily available from forests but not in bulk quantity. They have been procuring thus over the past 65 years. How he has managed to retain the skilled pickers needed for this tiresome job in todays day and age is something of a mystery.
He specializes in making authentic ayurvedic medicine for wide variety of diseases and specializes in tailams and chyawanprash. One just has to taste his chyawanprash to realize this. You would not doubt its authenticity even if it were the first time tasting any chyawanprash.
Holistic Herbs and Diet for a Healthy Life
Chyawanprash used to be an essential part of most children’s diet in India. It was as insisted on by parents as was milk. Pharma companies, realizing the huge potential in this market, raced against each other to create their unique brands. Each claimed superiority of their ingredients and their unique know how. Pharmacies, readily stocked these, just like Bournvita, Boost and Horlicks. Over time, due to changing habits and perhaps due the the changing quality of chyawanprash, one does not see the same fervor in their marketing and sales. Parents too have lost their zeal.
Chandran vaidyar’s chyawanprash is quite unique indeed. It has the consistency of molten lava. It is effective as a palate cleanser. Regular consumption has a noticeable effect on one’s appetite. One’s metabolism improves. Urine produced is noticeably sparkling and devoid of any impurities. It balances the production of hormones. These are all some of my first hand experience from consuming it over the past few months.
He also makes certain rare medicine on request but rarely without explicit demands made of the patient in adhering to his instructions.
Vaidyar firmly believes in producing medicines in small batches. It has been so since his father’s time. Because they have fixed number of vessel that vaidyar alone can manage and are sealed in ground from all the sides. No short cuts are used, all the herbs are bought fresh, processed, mixed and cooked if necessary. Even the curing time of medicine are as per the granthams. He uses certain herbs and a traditional technique to clean the fixed vessel because it cannot be take out of it’s earthen mould or there is no outlet at the bottom. Some vessel are so large that 3 to 4 adults can be easily sealed within.